Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

Fitness, Aging, and Stress Study for Dementia Caregivers

Fitness, Aging, and Stress Study for Dementia Caregivers

Overall Status: 
Active, not recruiting
Brief Description: 

This study will determine whether an aerobic exercise program will alter markers of immune cell aging, improve blood pressure, and decrease psychological distress in caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease. Results will be compared with those for a control group of caregivers who do not exercise.

Patient Qualifications: 
Min AgeMax AgeGenderHealthy Volunteers
50 Years
75 Years
Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Inclusion Criteria: 
    • Women must be postmenopausal
    • Body Mass Index (BMI) below 40
    • Family member providing at least 10 hours per week of unpaid care for an adult relative with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia for more than 6 months since diagnosis
    • Perceived stress
    • Do not meet federal recommendations for exercise (150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity)
Exclusion Criteria: 
    • Major chronic disease or major injury that interferes with activity levels, as advised by a medical practitioner (including autoimmune disorders; severe asthma; emphysema or chronic bronchitis; history of stroke, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, or brain injury)
    • Heart attack or repeated chest pain, pressure, and/or arrhythmia in the past 6 months
    • Cancer that is not in remission; chemotherapy or radiation within the past 5 years
    • Eating disorders
    • Current substance abuse/dependence that may interfere with ability to exercise
    • Current post-traumatic stress disorder
    • Current or recent smoker (within the past 5 years)
    • Prohibited medications: oral steroids; prescription or other drugs that might interfere with outcome measures
    • Any physical impairment that prevents participation in moderate level of physical activity (for example, musculoskeletal problems or prosthesis)
    • Inability to walk a block or climb stairs without chest pain, losing breath, or dizziness
Detailed Description: 

Participants in this study provide unpaid care for a family member with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia and are inactive and highly stressed. They will be randomly assigned to either an aerobic exercise group or a control group. The exercise group will meet with a fitness instructor, then engage in aerobic exercise (150 minutes per week) for 24 weeks. They will receive weekly coaching texts and monthly phone calls. The control group will receive monthly phone calls to verify that they have not significantly increased physical activity and will receive a free gym membership at the end of the study.

The investigators will determine any biological and psychological benefits of exercise. Specifically, they will look for whether the aerobic training alters markers of immune cell aging (leukocyte and peripheral blood mononuclear cells telomerase activity, telomere length, and mitochondrial function), improves blood pressure, and decreases psychological distress. Changes in how caregivers react to and recover from stressful events will be evaluated. Assessments consist of self-report questionnaires; body composition, physical performance, and fitness tests; and a fasting blood draw.

Map Marker CityStateZip CodeStatusPrimary Contact

Geolocation is 37.7822891, -122.463708

San Francisco
Lead Sponsor: 
University of California, San Francisco
Collaborator Sponsor: 
Facility Investigators: 
Eli Puterman, PhD
Principal Investigator
University of California, San Francisco
Samantha Schilf
Study Director
University of California, San Francisco
Study Contact: 
Samantha J. Schilf
Locations ID 
NCT01993082 (follow link to view full record on in new window)
Official Title: 
The Effects of Exercise and Life Stress on Telomere Maintenance and Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Study Start Date: 
January 2014
Study End Date: 
June 2016